As this issue is very long, with eight feature articles, I will try to keep my letter as short as possible.
A wonderful piece of news that arrived this month announced that the UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF) has adopted the Unified English Braille (UEB) as the braille code for the UK. The UKAAF press release explains that "UEB has already been adopted by Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria and South Africa, and this adoption by the UK aligns our braille code with other English-speaking countries." Stephen King, President Elect of the DAISY Consortium relates the adoption of UEB by the UK to the move to global standards and he is hopeful that it will facilitate the Consortium's Braille-in-DAISY objectives (within the DAISY Pipeline 2 Project). Activities and decisions that move accessible content closer to standardization of format are most welcome. Thank you for the good news Peter (Peter Osborne is the Chair of UKAAF).
Many of you will have heard or read about the severe flooding in Thailand, the worst in more than fifty years. Bangkok is surrounded by approximately ten billion cubic meters of water. To help minimize the impact of the disaster for people with a print disability the Thailand Association of the Blind (TAB) has put information on disaster preparedness, especially with regard to the flooding situation, on the TAB Telephony which can reach people with a print disability in Thailand. We wish the people of Thailand success in their battle against the flood waters.
Before I close off this issue I want to share with you something that I found online last week. It will take a minute to explain the connection, but please bear with me. The article Realizing the Economic Power of Women by Leila Chirayath Janah is posted at The Huffington Post.com. Janah is the founder of Samasource, an organization that provides real skills to women and youth in developing countries, women who most often have never held a job before, women living in poverty and often in fear. Through Samasource almost 1,600 have found meaningful, paying employment. (Be patient, I'm almost there.) "Jacqueline, another one of our women workers, joined a Samasource Delivery Center in Nairobi, Kenya eight months ago. She'd never had a formal job before, and made ends meet working in a local food stall. She had to drop out of her engineering degree program because she couldn't afford the tuition. Now ... Jacqueline digitizes books for a client halfway around the world (Bookshare.org, the largest repository of reading materials for blind readers in the world). Jacqueline finds the work inspiring – 'Because if I remember I am doing this job for somebody somewhere who cannot see, I feel that I have that heart of doing it perfectly.'" Thank you for being patient, I hope you found it worth while.
The second DAISY Board meeting of the year and the International DAISY Congress will take place this week in São Paulo, Brazil. I hope to be able to provide a report on the Congress in the November issue of the DAISY Planet. Safe journey to everyone travelling to and from Brazil.
I do hope you will be able to find the time to read through all eight of the articles in this issue of the DAISY Planet, and that you will find at least some of them helpful and/or interesting. There are too many to mention if I'm to keep this at least reasonably short.
I would like to thank Linda Gjaldbæk Hansen, Information Officer, with Nota, for submitting the DAISY 15th Anniversary series article for this issue, and would also like to thank Anja Lehmann of DZB for sending the article about the recent World Congress Braille21. Thanks also to every one who has sent ideas and suggestions for this issue. If your company or organization has news that may be of interest to the worldwide DAISY community, you can get in touch with me directly by email or by using the DAISY Contact Us form (Newsletter category). Articles and suggestions for articles are always welcome, as are Letters to the Editor and Stories.
The Story this month is the second of a two-part story about Prashant and Veena Verma. Part 2 is even more inspiring that Part 1 – I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I have.
The following links are to new or recently updated DAISY Products and Services from our Members and Friends. Marketplace entries also appear on our home page.
by Linda Gjaldbæk Hansen, Information Officer, Nota
"Equal access to knowledge" – this is the vision for Nota, the Danish National Library for Persons with Print Disabilities. Nota is an institution under the Danish Ministry of Culture and has more than 80 years of experience in providing knowledge and experiences to our users. Nota is Denmark's oldest library serving people who have difficulties reading standard print publications. But Nota has more than history – it is a digital library that takes the future seriously – most of our services are online in order to allow our users to be more self-empowered.
Nota, formerly known as DBB – the Danish National Library for the Blind – joined as a Full Member of the DAISY Consortium in 1997 right before the Consortium's 1st anniversary.
Over the years DBB has been involved in a number of DAISY projects. One of the first was the development of the requirements for a DAISY production tool, a process that resulted in LpStudioPro – a tool that is still being used in DAISY production.
Later, DBB was involved in the development of the ANSI/NISO Z39.86 standard – also known as DAISY 3. This standard – and the DTBook standard that defines the markup for the textual content – is now widely used in the production of e-texts worldwide and also points to the future, as parts of this standard were incorporated into the EPUB 2 standard that has established itself as the world leading standard for publishing e-texts.
Nota's former director, Elsebeth Tank, was elected as President of the DAISY Consortium, and held that office from 2003 to 2007. The change in name from DBB to Nota did not alter our affiliation with the DAISY Consortium which remains strong.
At the present time Nota has 17.000 DAISY titles in its collection. Nearly all of them are produced with human narration. About 10 percent are full text and audio, while the others are audio with structure.
§17 (Section 17) in the Danish Copyright Act allows Nota to choose any publication and transform it into an alternative medium – for example an audio book, e-book or a book in Braille. Nota is free to distribute these files to its registered users. In the case of audio editions of these publications, Nota is required to pay a royalty to authors and possible translators. All other publications are free of charge for Nota to produce and distribute. Royalty on audio is a fixed amount per recorded minute no matter the number of end users. The royalty payment is an obligatory license that is agreed to by Nota and the two Danish writer's associations.
Nota's users can download (both in DAISY and MP3), stream in DAISY and order books in DAISY on CD around the clock, gain easy access to information and entertainment, read the news of the day, find journals as well as read recommendations of the best books available right now from our online library at www.e17.dk.
Our streaming service has been available since February 2010, and is on average used by 100 unique patrons every day. Since November 2010, direct download (either in DAISY or MP3) from E17 to our users' own computers has been possible. Once the book is downloaded the user is able to put it on his or her favorite reading system – for example, a DAISY or MP3 player, iPod, iPad or something similar.
From 2006 to 2009 Nota digitalized its large collection of Braille Music Scores. The scores are largely music which was produced from the 1920's up until today. Nota now offers more than 3.000 Braille Music titles free of charge to users around the world. Users from all over the world can order the Braille Music Scores from the Nota website and will receive them on a CD-ROM. Danish users can download the Braille Music Scores directly from www.e17.dk.
The Nota Braille Music collection includes the following materials:
The Braille Music consists of plain text files, available in three formats:
AutoBraille is the program that Nota uses to produce embossed Braille books, magazines and individualized material. It adds an accessible layout and structure to the embossed Braille and uses elements from RoboBraille to convert print text to Braille. AutoBraille uses the same file as Nota's e-books: XML files based on the DAISY Structure Guidelines. This makes the production of embossed Braille faster and easier.
AutoBraille was developed in cooperation with Nota, Sensus Aps and the Danish Centre for Visual Impairment, Children and Youth (Synscenter Refsnaes) in order to improve the availability of Braille for Braille readers in Denmark. Additional information about AutoBraille is available on the Nota website AutoBraille page. Further information about RoboBraille is provided at RoboBraille.org.
Nota has over 3.000 books in Braille. In addition to that Nota produces 300 e-books each year, of which nearly all can be ordered and embossed in Braille afterwards. Between 2007 and 2009, as a special project, Nota produced the 360 most popular classics in Braille in order to ensure that these classics were preserved for the future.
Until 2005 most of Nota's users were elderly people with a visual disability. At that time, the number of our users was continually around 12.500 people. Since 2005 it has been possible for people with dyslexia to also become members of Nota. This has increased the number of patrons on a large scale, and today (as of October 2011) Nota has over 33.000 users. A relatively conservative prediction indicates that within five years the number will be 60.000. As the funds that Nota receives from the Danish government are scarce and will not increase in the future, Nota faces a great number of challenges. First of all, Nota has to provide the very best service to all our different users, who now range in ages from 4-107 years, and Nota's collection of books and services has to reflect its users' needs. Nota must therefore try to be leaders in all areas of technology. In order to do so, Nota gradually has to phase out the production of audio books on CD with new and improved online services.
On the 1st of January 2012, Nota will launch its first version of a mobile streaming player which will give all users easy access to Nota's collection of more than 20.000 audio books (mostly DAISY) online, from an ordinary smartphone. The mobile streaming player is based on the DAISY Structure Guidelines and therefore it provides navigation to the content.
Nota expects a lot from our new mobile streaming player as we have an understanding of the difficulties encountered by people who are unable to read standard print. We also have the required technological knowledge (for example, speech synthesis and e-book players) that is needed to help our users in ways that best meet their needs. We never forget that technology itself is not the final solution – it is just a tool that enables our users to gain knowledge and opportunities in society on equal terms with others. At Nota we work to ensure that everyone has equal opportunities – we work for full inclusion for everyone.
EPUB 3.0 is the current revision of the EPUB standard, developed in accordance with the charter which was approved by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) Membership in May, 2010. The revision was approved by the IDPF membership as a final Recommended Specification effective October 11, 2011, and is defined by a set of individual specifications. An EPUB 3 Overview is available on the IDPF website.
There are numerous eBook formats, but with EPUB 3 (as with DAISY) the structure and meaning of the content are intrinsically connected. EPUB 3 is aligned with HTML5, includes support for rich media such as audio and video, interactivity, international language support (including vertical scripts), styling and layout enhancements, SVG, MathML, and synchronization of audio with text. And, accessibility was built into EPUB 3 from the ground up.
George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium was first elected to the IDPF (then OeBF) Board; he was elected President of the IDPF in 2009:
"The EPUB 3 activity was chartered with a commitment to deliver a specification that would meet the rapidly changing landscape of digital publishing. It is amazing to have such a high profile specification become a global standard in such a short time. There is worldwide interest in EPUB 3 – this fully accessible digital publishing standard will change the world forever." [George Kerscher]
Bill McCoy, Executive Director, IDPF:
"As digital publications evolve from digitized text into enhanced eBooks and new forms of expression, EPUB 3 will dramatically expand the ability of authors and publishers to deliver richer experiences to their readers across disparate devices, in browsers and in apps."
Hiroshi Kawamura, President of the DAISY Consortium:
"You are creating a new horizon to raise up the floor of the Knowledge Society. As a result of the DAISY/EPUB 3 alliance, we are achieving more enhanced information access and language support for inclusive Knowledge Society development."
O'Reilly Media, in collaboration with the IDPF, has released a white paper "What Is EPUB 3? An Introduction to the EPUB Specification for Multimedia Publishing" By Matt Garrish. It can be downloaded at no cost from the O'Reilly Media website (registration required). It will also be available for download from the IDPF site in the near future.
The first time I met Markus Gylling was at a DAISY technical meeting in Princeton, New Jersey, well over a decade ago. He was young and new to the world of DAISY, but he was very interested in the DAISY Standard and accessible publications. He lead the development of the DAISY 3 Standard and is responsible for the DAISY Pipeline and Tobi.
There has been a long time relationship between the DAISY Consortium and the IDPF. With Markus' expertise in the area of standards development it seemed only natural that he should take the lead role in the development of the EPUB 3 standard. He is the DAISY Consortium Chief Technical Officer (CTO) and in late September he was appointed CTO of the IDPF, serving in parallel as CTO of DAISY.
Markus agreed to an interview with me about EPUB 3, about what it may mean to our community and to the millions of people around the world who read DAISY publications – and to the millions of people who would benefit from fully accessible and navigable publications if they were able to borrow or purchase them.
Q: What are the benefits of EPUB 3 as compared to DAISY books from an end user's perspective?
A: Although for many people this may seem hard to believe, EPUB 3 surpasses all versions of the DAISY Standard (2.02 and 3) in terms of accessibility and usability features. While all the 'classic' DAISY features (such as text and audio synchronization, intelligent and meaningful navigation) are present, there are also many new features in EPUB 3 which have the potential to take the reading experience to a new dimension.
In terms of dedicated accessibility features, support for embedding TTS (text to speech) pronunciation instructions and lexicons has been added to allow more complex content to be read correctly by speech synthesizers. EPUB 3 supports interactive content – support for W3C ARIA markup has been integrated to improve the accessibility of this dynamic content. Further, EPUB 3 adds native support for new types of content such as MathML and SVG, and also – very importantly – it adds support for correct representation of many new scripts (such as Arabic, Chinese and Japanese) by integrating for example W3C Ruby Annotation and vertical writing support. (These are just examples of new features; the full specification exposes them all.)
Secondly, as EPUB is a format endorsed and adopted by many mainstream publishers and distributors, end users can anticipate that fully accessible content will be available from many new sources and in much larger quantities. It is also expected there will be many more reading systems to choose from, available on all modern platforms.
However, as noted in previous articles about EPUB 3 in the DAISY Planet, not all EPUB 3 books, distribution portals and Reading Systems will be created the same, and may therefore not fulfill all expectations in terms of accessibility. There is a very important role for the DAISY community to play here; providing input and advice to content and tool developers and providers, and ensuring that end users have access to consolidated information which will allow them to navigate this emerging new landscape with ease and take full advantage of the benefits that EPUB 3 will bring.
Q: Can you expand upon what you mean by fully accessible content being available from "many new sources and in much larger quantities"? Will people who now rely on special library services in their country be able to purchase fully accessible books from bookstores, including online sources such as Amazon for example? Will they be able to borrow them from their local public libraries regardless of whether they qualify to do so as is most often the case now?
A: The mainstream interest in eBooks is increasing with a steady pace, although granted, the pace has varied significantly between countries. Availability of eBooks in retail outlets and from public libraries is becoming more and more commonplace. So, the answer to your question is "most probably yes".
For some patrons of special library services, and for the reasons mentioned above, this may of course pose a hindrance as well as an opportunity. This is why provision of consolidated information may become a common new function of specialized libraries; think of it as a "portal" service, that aggregates, filters and sorts the sources of content and exposes the result to patrons in a suitable way.
Q: How does DAISY Consortium's endorsement of EPUB impact DAISY Member organizations? While the DAISY membership welcomes the endorsement of the EPUB 3 standard, there are also many questions (which cannot be exhaustively answered here). What are the main reasons to consider a transition to an EPUB-based distribution model? What will happen to the existing DAISY content and infrastructure? Is the cost of a transition really worthwhile? How do we best collaborate with commercial publishers to assure that their content meets our users' needs?
A: I believe that many existing DAISY-based services will continue to live and prosper for years to come. The speed of transition will most likely vary between organizations, depending on the types of books produced (audio-only vs. text, leisure vs. academic, and so on), and also depending on the expectations of the end users served.
Over the coming few years, my guess is that the first thing we will see is organizations that start offering both DAISY (2.02 and 3) and EPUB 3 content to users in parallel. (Tools for transformation between DAISY and EPUB will be available, for example, through the [Pipeline2] project, and in the spring of 2012, Tobi will attain the ability to create audio+text synchronized EPUBs.)
Eventually however, I do expect most organizations to consider transitioning, either in full or in part, and there are multiple reasons for this. First and as mentioned above, EPUB 3 and its future versions add modern reading experience features that many producers and end users alike simply will not be able to live without. Second, the increased availability of both production tools, distribution and reading systems, will mean that an EPUB-based deployment will eventually be more effective and economical.
This latter point is of course strengthened by the fact that EPUB in many cases will be a shared platform with publishers and public libraries; it will increasingly make less and less economic and practical sense to produce distribute content in a specialized format. The adoption of EPUB in the mainstream will likely mean that many DAISY organizations will strengthen and/or revitalize their efforts to establish partnerships with mainstream publishers. And this time, we have something really valuable to bring to the table. In order for mainstream publishing to produce fully usable and accessible EPUBs "by default", a transfer of knowledge is needed from the DAISY community to the mainstream. Education and outreach will become more important than ever before.
Another potential new activity is "enhancement". In cases where EPUB content provided by a commercial publisher are not adequately accessible, DAISY organizations could act as an intermediary, enhancing the content with accessibility features before returning it for distribution in mainstream channels, or before passing it on to patrons.
Q: What will happen next in terms of EPUB evolution?
A: There is a flurry of activity in the EPUB community even following the release of EPUB 3. Multiple new standardization projects are being started to provide even more enhancements to the format, including support for dictionaries, indexes, and new, cutting-edge advanced layout features.
Also, in collaboration with O'Reilly, IDPF is providing a series of "shorts" (a compact online book), and the next "short" in line is about accessibility in EPUB 3. This book is expected to be done and freely available from O'Reilly in the first quarter of 2012 (published in EPUB format, of course).
Finally, different paths to standardization of EPUB within ISO (International Organization for Standardization) are being evaluated. The finalization of EpubCheck, the EPUB content validator, is underway. Tools development in support of EPUB 3 is being done by many companies around the globe. In terms of DAISY projects and as mentioned above, EPUB 3 support is being added to Tobi and DAISY Pipeline 2.
Markus Gylling lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife and daughters.
The DAISY Consortium has played an integral part in the development of EPUB 3 and will advocate for EPUB 3 content which has the features and functions necessary to make publications fully accessible. We look forward to a future article in the DAISY Planet when Markus will talk with us in more detail about accessible content authoring/production, including the future of DTBook and DAISY AI XML (also known as ZedAI XML).
Both Obi and Tobi make content creation possible for everyone involved in providing accessible reading materials and information to those who cannot read standard print or electronic media. However the output from these tools can also provide an enhanced reading experience for anyone.
October marks another milestone in roadmap of Obi-Tobi joint project with the release of Obi 2.0, introducing several new significant features, and Tobi 1.5, with a new feature that allows content creators to make images more accessible. Both software tools are open source and available to everyone at no cost.
Obi is a sophisticated and yet easy to use tool for creating DAISY audio content with structure. It is fully accessible and works with screen readers such as Jaws, WindowEyes, and NVDA (which is open source). In addition to creating DAISY talking books (DAISY 3 and DAISY 2.02), it can be used as a general purpose audio authoring, editing, conversion, and MP3 encoder.
Obi was originally designed as a basic, simple, accessible DAISY production tool. The learning curve for learning and using Obi is very short. However, newer sophisticated features such as the advanced recording mode make it suitable for expert users as well. The simple features exist as default behaviour and advanced features can be enabled by expert users. Obi therefore caters to needs of both basic users and the needs of expert users.
Obi 2.0 provides numerous significant new features and enhancements, the most notable being:
Several enhancements have also been added, including bookmarking and improvements to the section merging functionality. A number of bug fixes are included in this release.
The complete Obi feature list and the link to download Obi 2.0 are provided in the Obi Project area of the DAISY website.
There are a number of articles about producing DAISY content with Obi in DAISYpedia in the section Publishing the DAISY Way. The Obi Forum provides an excellent resource for anyone who has questions about or problems with using Obi.
"Obi is used on a daily basis at Association for the Blind of Western Australia for the production and conversion of books to DAISY format." says Greg Kearney, ABWA. "We have found it to be easy to use and able to generate books that are of high quality." And, George Kerscher, Secretary General of the DAISY Consortium, summed up his thoughts about this tool very simply: "Obi really is terrific."
Tobi is an extensible, multimedia production tool that currently supports DAISY 3, NIMAS and the EPUB 2 format. It is designed to support the synchronizing a text document with human narration, including page numbers, hierarchical table of contents, images, footnotes, and so on. Release 1.5 will be made available for download on or before November 1.
Tobi 1.5 is intermediate, stable release which allows producers to embed text only image descriptions within a DAISY book. This functionality will further developed to support the authoring of full text/full audio image description within the content. This feature development is scheduled for the next release of Tobi in April 2012.
There are also some recent improvements to the screen reader user interface (UI), some performance improvements as well as a number of bug fixes.
Tobi is the first authoring tool to support image description authoring workflow (during the content creation process). Research carried out under the DIAGRAM project will contribute to development of a content model for descriptions for various kinds of graphical material. As outlined in the Obi/Tobi Project Charter, "Tobi is required to provide a workflow for adding these image descriptions and provide output according to EPUB / DAISY specifications." Information about the DIAGRAM Project is provided in the DAISY Projects area. An introduction to the Project is given in the DAISY Planet article $5 Million Awarded for DIAGRAM Research & Development Center (March 2010).
With the release of 1.5, Tobi will enter Phase 2 of the Project Charter. During this phase support for EPUB 3 content creation will be built into Tobi. This open source DAISY authoring tool that is extensible, internationalizable and accessible, and will also support full text/full audio image description authoring.
The Tobi Forum is an excellent resource for anyone who has questions about or problems with using Tobi.
The DAISY Consortium and the Obi and Tobi development teams would like to thank everyone who has contributed to these projects by providing feedback and support. The ongoing involvement and contribution of the DAISY community is essential for the continued evolution of DAISY Consortium tools and projects.
The next meeting of WIPO's Standing Committee on Copyright (SCCR23) begins on November 21. Two days have been put on the agenda for an in-depth session on the proposed copyright and exceptions treaty initiative (originally the WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons submitted by the WBU in 2008) with a third day set aside for other copyright issues dealing specifically with Limitations and Exceptions.
The documents resulting from the WIPO SCCR22 meeting which relate to copyright and exceptions for people with a visual or other print disability are available on the WIPO SCCR website. As there are many which do not deal with this issue, the relevant documents are:
Two action points for the November meeting were tabled at the June WIPO SCCR meeting Conclusions: to finalize the text of the international instrument; and to determine if that instrument will be a binding Treaty or a non-binding Recommendation.
In the WIPO SCCR23 draft agenda the agenda item of particular interest is number 6, "Limitations and exceptions". In the Tentative Schedule for Discussion of Substantive Issues "SCCR Limitations and exceptions (in general, including VIP issues)" will be addressed November 24, 25 and 28. The Conclusions are scheduled for December 2.
People around the world have been lobbying for a binding treaty. The WBU Right to Read Team has been lobbying congress in the USA and the European Parliament for their support. Although there are publishers in the USA and the EU which support the proposed treaty, the majority are working for a non-binding recommendation as the solution. However, efforts are bringing positive results. For example, earlier this month the European Parliament's Petitions Committee issued a call for a binding treaty in support of the proposed WIPO limitations and exceptions treaty allowing the cross border exchange of accessible publications. Two strong comments were made by two Members of the European Parliament, according to the committee release: "It is a form of discrimination, people's basic right to education and culture is being neglected," (MEP Angelika Werthmann, Non Attached, AT) and "It is simply unacceptable that a part of society is being denied access to books" (MEP Peter Jahr, EPP, DE).
Worldwide many people have been working in global partnerships to increase the availability of accessible publications. New research from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) illustrates that some progress is being made to increase the number of accessible English language books available in the UK. However, even though the numbers in the UK and the USA are increasing, it still amounts to only a fraction of what is published in print. In addition, this increase is not the case worldwide which points even more emphatically to the need for an international, binding treaty that enables international exchange so that the comparative wealth of accessible information in countries like the UK and USA can be shared with countries where still only a very, very small percentage of published content is accessible. The work that Bookshare is doing with its international program is also an important step and it is making a difference, but it reaches a small percentage of the people outside the USA who are unable to read standard print or electronic formats.
Partnerships with industry on accessible e-books are helping to some extent, but again, this is still largely an English language phenomenon; it is not a worldwide phenomena. In parts of the developed world, such as the Nordic countries, where the market is very small, e-books are not yet taking hold. The combination of organizations distributing accessible content (who are unable to make the most of limited resources by sharing titles across borders) and the mainstream e-book industry are not, even when totalled, ending the "book famine".
A full report on the November WIPO/SCCR23 meeting will be published in the December DAISY Planet.
Background information on the issues around the proposed treaty addressing copyright limitations and exceptions is available in the DAISY Planet article WIPO Copyright Committee: Stalemate Ends. Links to additional information are also available in that article.
World Congress BRAILLE21 took place from September 28th to 30th in Leipzig, Germany, under the patronage of the chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Ms. Angela Merkel. The conference was presented by the World Blind Union (WBU) and organised by the German Central Library for the Blind in Leipzig (DZB Leipzig) (a member of MediBuS together with 27 partners from many different countries. The event was held at the central campus of Leipzig's university. More than 400 Braille experts and users from all over the world came to Germany to discuss the six core themes of the conference:
As there were so many presentations, workshops and discussions, it would be impossible to mention them all, so here are just a few highlights. After an entertaining first evening at the university campus, the conference was officially opened on Wednesday morning by the director of DZB Leipzig, Dr. Thomas Kahlisch, followed by greetings from Professor Sabine von Schorlemer (Minister of Science and Art of Saxony), Professor Thomas Fabian (Social Mayor of the City of Leipzig), Maryanne Diamond (President of the World Blind Union), Jahawar Lal Kaul (Chair of the World Braille Council), Renate Reymann (President of the German Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted), and Peter Osborne from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), who was the Chair of the Programme Committee. Even the conference patron, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, had sent a message (in Braille of course) which was read out to the participants.
Following the greetings, Judy Dixon from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress in Washington D.C., held the first keynote of the conference, entitled "Braille, Education and Libraries". Ms. Dixon took us on a journey through her life as a Braille user and book lover. Everyone in the room was touched by her story and thoughts. The same can be said for the second keynote speech, "The Role of Braille for Deaf blind People", which was presented by Deacon Peter Hepp (who is deaf and blind) from southern Germany. He gave his presentation in German sign language and it was interpreted into spoken English for the audience. Mr. Hepp reminded everyone of how vital Braille is as a means of communication with the outside world for people who are deaf and blind.
A primary focus of Braille21 was innovations in Braille, and on Thursday morning it was time for the five finalists for the Braille21 Award to present their ideas. The finalists were:
Peter Osborne explained that it had been very difficult for the selection committee to select a winner, but that they had made their choice. The Braille21 Award went to the Portable Embosser format. Congratulations go to TBP!
On all three days of the conference there was a huge selection of presentations, workshops and panel discussions, which made it extremely difficult to choose which ones to attend. During the breaks, participants could stroll along the "Market of Opportunities", a unique event where individuals presented their very personal, innovative ideas around Braille, for example, new learning materials, and embroidery or tactile books and games. There was also an exhibition, where major companies from all over the world presented their latest adaptive products.
Although there was so much to see and do, participants found time to exchange experiences, form new partnerships and make new friends. For some it was their first opportunity to talk with Braille experts from the other side of the world and find out about the challenges people face elsewhere. While in industrialized countries we discuss whether Braille on paper will still be necessary in the future, in some developing countries they would be happy to have a slate and stylus and some books for each blind child. The conference also provided opportunities for people to learn from each about things such as braille labelling on packages or in public spaces.
The cultural highlights added immensely to the success of Braille21. On Thursday evening the participants enjoyed a private concert of Leipziger Gitarrenquartett at the world famous Gewandhaus, followed by dinner at Auerbachs Keller, the most famous restaurant of Leipzig.
On Friday afternoon, after the closing session of the conference, some of the participants took part in a guided tour through DZB Leipzig. Later they had an opportunity to enjoy an open concert by the famous St. Thomas Boys Choir and the quartet of blind singers "Pro Puncto" at St. Thomas Church in the centre of Leipzig. Most participants returned home that night or the next morning, but some stayed for another day and went on a guided tour through Leipzig.
We hope that the many new partnerships and friendships that were formed during World Congress Braille21 will continue and that the spirit of innovations that was demonstrated grows and thrives. Finally, it is time to thank everyone who made this extraordinary series of events possible. Thank you to DZB Leipzig and all the partner organizations, to the members of the programme committee, the four interpreters who translated many presentations into French and Spanish, and of course to the conference management.
Thanks go to Anja Lehmann of DZB for submitting this article for the DAISY Planet and sharing the Braille21 highlights with us.
The DAISY Pipeline is a suite of tools designed to meet the changing needs of the DAISY community. It supports the migration and production of accessible digital content to a variety formats efficiently and economically. DAISY Pipeline 2 was launched in June 2010, introducing a fundamental redesign of the original Pipeline 1, enabling a more robust development of new functionality. It is a collaborative project maintained by the DAISY Consortium with numerous organizations involved in the development.
Pipeline 2, version 1.0 was released earlier this month and is available for download. This first (non-beta) public release includes a cross-platform, modular runtime framework for the Pipeline 2 modules, executable as a command line tool or via an interoperable REST web API. The set of processing modules in this release provides the following conversions:
The full list of changes is provided on the DAISY Pipeline Wiki.
This is a major milestone for the project, bringing the first development phase to an end. The charter for the second development phase has been submitted to the DAISY Board of Directors for approval at the Board meeting in early November. Phase 2 will officially begin with approval by the DAISY Board. This next phase will introduce many new features and deliver ongoing improvements to the current version. The outcome will benefit all DAISY Consortium members involved in automated content production, and will also benefit commercial companies wishing to take advantage of the open source and liberally licensed deliverables.
Romain Deltour, DAISY Pipeline Project Lead, and the development team extend thanks to everyone who has participated in the Pipeline 2 Project and helped in reaching this first milestone.
In its fourth year of the five year Bookshare for Education (B4E) Award, Benetech is serving 150,000 students (150% of the overall number to be achieved) and the goal of 80,000 new educational titles has been exceeded with more than 125,000 books now in its Bookshare collection. Over 168 publishers provide files of their books enabling Bookshare to rapidly grow the number of unique titles it makes available online.
Earlier this month Benetech announced that it has been awarded a new one year award from OSEP for the Leveraging Impact Through Technology (LIT) project in partnership with the American Institutes for Research (AIR). This $3M award will further the work being done through the Bookshare for Education project, including new content, tools and increased utilization. Three of the key target areas are:
The new Android and web-based reading tools produced under the LIT project will be available for free to individuals around the world. They will allow users to read DAISY text and EPUB books from a variety of providers. Bookshare members worldwide will be able to download all Bookshare books available to them in MP3 and DAISY audio formats, in addition to the current DAISY text and BRF options.
In addition, all open content accessible image materials will also be available for use worldwide. This work will leverage the tools and practices from the DIAGRAM Center, which is operated by Benetech in partnership with the US Fund for DAISY. While the targeted materials will conform to US standards, many of the math and science concepts included will be useful for accessible educational materials globally. As open content, they can also be repurposed as needed for additional languages or other needs.
Additional information is available in the October 11 PRWEB.COM Newswire posted in the Digital Journal.
DaisyReader for Android phones is an open source development; the goal is to create an accessible, free Android DAISY and EPUB reader app. Resources available to the project are limited. The lead developer has therefore put out a call for developers to assist with the project. Specifically they need to add features to make books easier to download and manage.
Information and a link to download the app are provided on the "android-daisy-epub-reader" project homepage. Information for developers and others interested in the project is located on the Issues list pages. The current set of feature requests and bug fixes are also provided.
The app is currently available in 10 languages. Information about and instructions for creating new translations are provided on the development site. It is estimated that there are users of this Android app in about 20 countries at this time.
In the second quarter of this year Android OS was on 43.4% of all smartphones sold worldwide (Gartner report 2nd Q 2011), indicating that this reader app could make a significant difference, especially to users in developing countries. At present this DAISY-EPUB app is the only one developed for Android which is the mobile OS with the highest growth rate worldwide. From 2nd quarter 2010 to 2nd quarter 2011 mobiles with Android OS increased from 19% to 43% in total market share. Sales of smartphones were up 74% year-on-year. (Source: Gartner Group). And, the fastest increase is taking place in developing countries (as noted at the 5th Africa Forum).
Programmers are welcome – Java software writing skills are needed. Ideally developers who volunteer to help will also have experience and expertise in writing Android applications. The "android-daisy-epub-reader" website includes some guidance for developers to help them get started with the source code. Before the DaisyReader for Android phones can be launched on the Android market it needs some 'polish' to make it easier for non-technical users to get started with the software.
People who are interested can join the general discussion group (a Google account is required to join the group). Julian Harty, the lead developer, has indicated that interested contributors can also contact him by email at julianharty[ at ]gmail.com.
The DAISY Consortium will have an exhibit at the M-Enabling Summit in Washington DC, December 5 & 6. Varju Luceno, Director of Communications for the DAISY Consortium, plans to demonstrate the DAISY-EPUB reader app for Android; she will of course also be demonstrating DAISY books on portable DAISY players.
I have found the link to the Chinese translation of the article "World Report on Disability" in the September DAISY Planet. I hope it helps the Chinese people around the world to read it.
Thank you again for what you have done for the visually impaired people all over the world.
I am a retired software technologist and am starting a non-profit focused on tools for people with dyslexia. I am considering the use of DAISY and would like to know if there is a way to evaluate the technology prior to purchasing a membership.
Thank you for your assistance,
We would love to have you join the DAISY Consortium, but you don't need to become a Member to check out tools such as AMIS an open source DAISY reading software or Obi a software production tool for creating DAISY content – both are developed by the DAISY Consortium, both are open source projects and available at no cost.
Different commercial software options that can benefit people with dyslexia are also available. Some examples are the ida reader which was developed with the special needs of the people faced with challenges when reading text, such as dyslexia, in mind, and, EasyReader which now has improved functionality to provide a more seamless reading experience for readers with visual impairments and dyslexia. Both software programs come with free sample DAISY books. You may also want to take a look at ReadHear for PC and/or ReadHear for Mac. Free trials of these software packages are also available.
Specific information about how students of all ages can benefit from DAISY books can be found on our website on the DAISY in Education pages.
The information about our Projects and the discussions on the DAISY Forums might also be helpful to you. Details about all of the tools developed by the DAISY Consortium and its membership are available in the Tools & Services area. DAISYpedia is also a useful resource for people who create and/or read DAISY content.
You may find the Learning Ally (previously RFB&D) article Mother-Son Duo on the Challenges of Dyslexia interesting and helpful as it clearly illustrates the need for accessible content and reading systems for people who have dyslexia.
Information about the various DAISY Consortium membership categories and the membership application form are available on the Get Involved pages.
Thank you for your interest in DAISY!
• The M-Enabling Summit – Global Summit and Showcase for Mobile Applications and Services for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities – is the first global program solely dedicated to participants in the emerging ecosystem for mobile accessible and assistive technologies, applications and services. The Summit will be held in Washington D.C. from December 5-6. Key tracks will highlight new innovations addressing the specific needs of users living with different types of disability, as well as major emerging market opportunities. Hiroshi Kawamura, President, DAISY Consortium will be a panelist on the "International Panel on Policies and Programs to Promote Accessible and Assistive Mobile Services for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities". The agenda is available on the M-Enabling Summit website. The DAISY Consortium is one of the Supporting Organizations of this Summit. A report on the Summit will be published in the November DAISY Planet.
• HarperCollins Canada received the CNIB 2011 Dr. Dayton M. Forman Memorial Award: This award recognizes outstanding leadership in the advancement of library and information services for Canadians living with vision loss or print disabilities. The award was presented to HarperCollins Canada for their contribution to the CNIB Library. Since the partnership with CNIB was establish, HarperCollins has supplied their entire backlist of available audio titles to CNIB, & has honoured a favourable pricing model for the purchase of new titles. HarperCollins has also granted permission to convert these titles to DAISY format. This partnership is the first of its kind in Canada. Hiroshi Kawamura, President of the DAISY Consortium, is a past recipient of this award.
• The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) has launched a new Open Discovery Initiative to develop standards and recommended practices for next generation library discovery services. "NISO is very pleased to bring together the stakeholders in open discovery – libraries, information providers and discovery providers – to develop consensus standards or recommended practices on how to make these services more effective for all involved, and ultimately, for the end user," (Todd Carpenter, NISO Managing Director). An interest group list for this project will be available for those who would like to receive updates on the Working Group's progress and provide feedback. Information on how to subscribe to the interest group list for this project is available on the NISO website, lists area.
• The archived recordings of 3 DAISY-related Webinars – Tobi, AMIS, Microsoft's Save As DAISY add-in – are available on the Equal Access to Software and Information (EASI).
• The 6th European eAccessibility Forum: "Embedded eAccessibility at the core of information systems" will be held March 27, 2012 in Paris, France. Full details, including the points which will be addressed are provided on the Forum website. Both George Kerscher and Varju Luceno of the DAISY Consortium will serve on the Programme Committee.
• The International Workshop on "Digitization and E-Inclusion in Mathematics and Science 2012" (DEIMS12), will bring together experts from around the world to present and discuss the state of the art, current research and development activities, and future perspectives. This workshop will take place February 8 - 10 at the Nihon University, College of Science and Technology, Tokyo, Japan. The Call for Papers is now open. Full details and a link to submit papers are provided on the Workshop website.
• The WAI-ACT Project is lead by and builds upon the strengths of the existing World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) cooperation mechanisms to facilitate strategic European and international participation throughout the project. "WAI-ACT, a Cooperation Framework for Guidance on Advanced Technologies, Evaluation Methodologies, and Research Agenda Setting to Support eAccessibility, addresses critical areas of advanced accessibility support through activities that build upon the strengths of past web accessibility work, harmonizes existing work, and helps shape a research agenda in coordination with key stakeholders in Europe and internationally."
• Digital Book Index is an online collection contains links to more than 165,000 digital books from both commercial and non-commercial publishers, universities and private websites. More than 140,000 are available at no cost. Information about searching and search options is provided on the Search Options page. Both search and browse options are available. Formats include but are not limited to HTML and EPUB, and, eBooks at some of the links are available in DAISY format (the Internet Archive, for example).
• The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) announced on October 11 that they have reached an agreement that will resolve a complaint filed against Penn State by the NFB with the United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights. There was no admission of any wrongdoing. Dr. Marc Maurer, President of NFB, said: "Universities must commit to making sure all of the technology that they use is accessible to blind students, or else the blind will be left behind in education and denied opportunity..." Full details are provided in the NFB press release.
• Resources for those who are interested in DAISY Online Delivery:
1/ DAISY Online Delivery forum,
2/ DAISY Online Delivery Opens Door for Global Interoperability,
3/ Moving DAISY Online in Finland ,
4/ Flanders (Belgium) Begins Online DAISY Distribution,
5/ DAISY Online Delivery Project page,
6/ DAISYpedia Online Delivery Project article.
There is also a DAISY Online Delivery category on the DAISY Contact Us form – so please get in touch with us if your questions are not answered by any of these articles or resources.
• If you are looking for freely available sample DAISY books, or test suite, the Association for the Blind of Western Australia (ABWA), offers a wide range of freely available and redistributable DAISY books; search for any title in the public domain on the ABWA website; on the Bookshare website go to Advanced Search (the link near the search box at the top), and select "Freely available" under "Books to Search" (these are all DAISY 3, text-only books); or, visit samples available on the DAISY website.
• AMIS News:
1/ On October 12 it was announced that the AMIS language pack for Traditional Chinese is available for download. Marisa DeMeglio, the AMIS lead developer extended thanks to the Taiwan Digital Talking Books Association (TDTB) for contributing the new language pack;
2/ A new minor revision of AMIS was released mid October. AMIS 3.1.2 is available for download.